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Local environmental activist turns 100
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Saturday, September 24 10 am to 4 pm Recreation Complex
FREE ADMISSION TO THE
“Just for the Health of It” Powell River
Health and Wellness Fair Do you provide health or wellness services? Apply for a booth today.
For booking info, please contact Christine Parsons Health & Fitness Coordinator at 604-485-8903 or email@example.com
Guest speakers | Demonstrations| Booths
• april 2016 • prliving.ca
BY GLEN ROSCOVICH
y mother, Ruby Elsie Roscovich nee Deksne, began life in 1916 on an Alberta homestead farm, the only child of Latvian exiles. Her father, Martin, was the only one of his family to escape Cossack persecution for his socialist activism. Martin and wife, Albertine, fled Europe for the eventual haven of the Canadian West. Ill-suited for the rugged pioneering life, the couple persevered and gave young Ruby a good life and education. Her fondest memories are still of life on the farm. Ruby pursued teacher training and worked for 10 years in the rural one-room school system throughout the Depression in Alberta. After many adventures, she finally met her match in the now long-defunct coal mining town of Sterco in the Foothills of the Rockies. Romance bloomed, and in 1947 Ruby married Frank Roscovich, a recently-returned soldier and accomplished outdoorsman. Yours truly showed up not long after, further complicating their lives with my endless demands. Since the mine would close soon, Ruby and Frank decided to head west and eventually learned of opportunities in an up-coast mill town, Powell River. Our family arrived on the coastal steamer Princess Mary. Soon after, my brother Dale was born. Although she left the teaching profession to be mother and wife, Ruby never stopped being an educator. She dove into community life as a Sunday school teacher and choir member under the guidance of Margaret Bowes, a marvelous teacher herself. She also helped welcome many new teachers and immigrant families to the community Ruby had a major in Home Economics so her kitchen was a laboratory as she researched the healthiest way to feed her gang. Mom and dad ran a large garden and hours of forced labour, yanking weeds was our cost for the daily meal. Dad kept the freezer full of fish and game. Silent Spring, Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book about environmental damage, caught Ruby’s attention. So did the provocative columns of Bob Hunter in the Vancouver Sun. It became plain that industrial and civic waste were caus-
came a major item on the municipal agenda. Early recycling was an outlaw effort. Town council considered the practice as “hoarding garbage” with fines to be levied. Mom and Dad would load up the camper with assembled material and make clandestine runs to the city depots themselves. Mom later helped brother Dale with a Local Initiative Plan grant application that resulted in Powell River’s first sanctioned recycling center. Ruby was a regular writer of letters to the editor promoting pro-
CELEBRATE RUBY All are welcome to help us celebrate Ruby’s first 100 years, 2-4 pm Saturday April 9 at the Reformed Church Hall on Padgett Road. No gifts please but any favourite appetizer plates would be welcomed, pot-luck style. There are rumours of a cake but that may require approval of the fire department. For more info call Glen at 604-2234522 or Twyla at 250-650-6445.
RADICAL RUBY: Above, Ruby in her garden at 100. This is the face of a pioneering lobbyist for recycling, transit, and much more. Below, Ruby stirs the pot in the 1970s with a bicycle sign which reads, “New Super-Nell / With gressive ideas and celebrating the Beans or Steaks / Rides a clean machine enlightened efforts of others. Expansion of our bus system was an/ for all our sakes.”
ing problems that should be avoided by doing something about it. Along with Martin Rossander, Colin Palmer and other like-minded folks they formed Powell River Anti-Pollution Association (PRAPA) to educate and work for change in the way things were done. Their efforts helped radically change the mill’s impact on the environment. Sewage treatment be-
other upgrade she helped champion. Even through her 90’s she could be counted on to add her personal daily ridership numbers for the bean counters. Council thoughtfully provided a bus stop outside her door. Ruby and Frank helped found and run the Powell River Old Time Dance club that kept alive a lot of those old-timey dances that were in danger of fading away. She also maintained an arsenal of classic recitations performed in full costume. “Johnny Corteau”, “Little Bateese” and “Strawberry Roan” could be counted on for entertainment at parties and events. She surprised us all at her 95th birthday with “Strawberry Roan” in full gear. Ruby’s activism torch has been passed along to granddaughter, Twyla, who has been taking teaching moments to new levels as well as providing a granddaughter, Ruby Jr, for the next generation. It seems that children often don’t recognize their parents’ worth, but I do. That’s because so many people especially women, come up to me and tell me how much Ruby has meant to them over the years. Her warmth, enthusiasm and lady-like style provided a fine role model.
Published on Apr 4, 2016
Powell River Living's April edition looks at the implementation of the Tla'amin Treaty and totem pole carving. There's also a feature about...